Sunday, June 21, 2009

Beasts terroised Julius Caesar. Now the are back... in Devon

This was the front page headline for The Times April 22, 2009 as I arrived in Liverpool to give a talk on animal incidents at the Animal Revolution symposium at Hope Liverpool.

The article is actually a good political history of cattle. It notes taht the last auroch died in the royal Jaktorow forest in Poland. Heinze Heck conducted Nazi experiments to genetically back-breed modern cattle to the aurock wildness: "The heard has Herman Goering, the head of Hitler's Luftwaffe, to thank for its existence. Goering hoped to recreate a primeval Aryan wilderness in the conquered territories of Eastern Europe" (15).

The Heck cattle were imported into Devon by Derek Gow, a conservationist who also led the fight to re-introduce the beaver into the UK (after several hundered year without the dam animal). He brought them over from a anture reserve near Amsterdam where 600 Heck cattle roam. The animals are particularly fast and a bit agressive. Gow "intends to breed tehm, selecting the more placid animals that are less likely to react to curious pekinese as though it were a maurauding carnivore." Backbreeding to an "original" but breeding out the agression of nature... a curious shifts in standards here for the benefit of humankind.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Burns "To a Mouse"

Inspiring stanza:
I'm truly sorry Man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

City of Pigs

In Book II of Plato's Republic, Glaucon call's Plato's simple and unadorned city a "city of pigs" that needs to be humanized by moving from stark necessities to luxuries (including art). He is sort of prodding Plato about human nature. So, the swinish multitude in Plato?! Here is the excerpt, see
---But, said Glaucon, interposing, you have not given them a relish to their meal.

True, I replied, I had forgotten; of course they must have a relish-salt, and olives, and cheese, and they will boil roots and herbs such as country people prepare; for a dessert we shall give them figs, and peas, and beans; and they will roast myrtle-berries and acorns at the fire, drinking in moderation. And with such a diet they may be expected to live in peace and health to a good old age, and bequeath a similar life to their children after them.

Yes, Socrates, he said, and if you were providing for a city of pigs, how else would you feed the beasts?

But what would you have, Glaucon? I replied.
Why, he said, you should give them the ordinary conveniences of life. People who are to be comfortable are accustomed to lie on sofas, and dine off tables, and they should have sauces and sweets in the modern style.

Yes, I said, now I understand: the question which you would have me consider is, not only how a State, but how a luxurious State is created; and possibly there is no harm in this, for in such a State we shall be more likely to see how justice and injustice originate. In my opinion the true and healthy constitution of the State is the one which I have described. But if you wish also to see a State at fever heat, I have no objection. For I suspect that many will not be satisfied with the simpler way of way They will be for adding sofas, and tables, and other furniture; also dainties, and perfumes, and incense, and courtesans, and cakes, all these not of one sort only, but in every variety; we must go beyond the necessaries of which I was at first speaking, such as houses, and clothes, and shoes: the arts of the painter and the embroiderer will have to be set in motion, and gold and ivory and all sorts of materials must be procured.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Correlary to Are You Being Served--they are killing us

Kathy Ferston has an good essay called "Shattering the Meat Myth: Humans are Natural Vegetarians." She assembles a series of authorities on the matter including:
Dr. William C. Roberts, editor of the American Journal of Cardiology, "Although we think we are, and we act as if we are, human beings are not natural carnivores. When we kill animals to eat them, they end up killing us, because their flesh, which contains cholesterol and saturated fat, was never intended for human beings, who are natural herbivores."
Roberts ain't saying anything most nutritionists don't already know. He is just saying it with more studies and institutional backing. Ferston's other authorities include some noteworthy anthropologists. What interests me for this blog entry is that "they end up killing us."

Given the very high percent of Americans and Europeans who are overweight, the problems of incorporation of cattle can even lead to issues of morphological change of humans in the 21st century. That is to say, we manage cattle and we eat them, manage and manger. Because we eat them we shape and manage them a particular way. Incorporation as eating is managed by corporations as businesses. Corporate chains from fast food icons such as McDonalds to steak houses such as Longhorn (which serves more polled than horned cattle) make demands on breeders and farmers. So, we change the beast according to these demands. Yet, they change us as we digest globally homogenized and overly processed animal products.

The Attachment (are you being served?, part 2)

With the painting The Attachment (1829), Sir Edwin Landseer joined William Wordsworth and Sir Walter Scott in memorializing a dog who stayed by the side of his master when he died from a fall off of a cliff in the Lake District. As William Hunt (or was it Charles Lamb?) commented, what do they think the dog eat for the weeks he was alone at his "master's" side? Yes, the master!

Are you being served?

This from Eugene Thacker: "To Serve Man" episode from the Twilight Zone (also parodied in The Simpsons). Intelligent aliens arrive on earth to "serve" the human race. . . to help them or to eat them? How will we be assimilated into the [u.f.o.] verticality from the alien Other?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

nonhuman tones

Marcus Coates and Chrome Hoof are teaming up at The Coronet Theatre on Friday June 5, 2009.
Does the animal revolution have a music? Would this be it?

Like a note from the future, the already formed hauntings of future animal messages arrives to us in protean forms. Who are these carriers of the animal futures? not men, quite, nor animal but suffused with chrome, electricity, fur, and wobbling voice they come.